If he could go back to high school, Mike Huckabee said, he would like to have “felt like a woman” when it came time to wash up after PE class.
“I wish that someone told me that when I was in high school that I could have felt like a woman when it came time to take showers in PE,” the former Arkansas governor joked while speaking earlier this year at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention. “I’m pretty sure that I would have found my feminine side and said, ‘Coach, I think I’d rather shower with the girls today.’”
Huckabee, who ended his show on Fox News in January to make a second run for the Republican presidential nomination, also suggested the transgender community was a threat to society.
“For those who do not think that we are under threat, simply recognize that the fact that we are now in city after city watching ordinances say that your 7-year-old daughter, if she goes into the restroom, cannot be offended, and you can’t be offended, if she’s greeted there by a 42-year-old man who feels more like a woman than he does a man,” he said.
Huckabee’s comments, first reported Tuesday by Buzzfeed, came a day after the release of a highly publicized Vanity Fair cover featuring former Olympic star Bruce Jenner, who now identifies as Caitlyn. Intense media coverage of Jenner’s transformation drew national attention to transgender issues.
Huckabee’s spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday evening.
As a self-proclaimed culture warrior and a favorite of social conservatives and evangelicals, Huckabee has made eyebrow-raising comments before.
In his newly released book, "God, Guns, Grits and Gravy,” Huckabee assails rap mogul Jay Z, whom he accuses of pimping out his wife, singer Beyonce, in music videos in which the two perform together.
“Jay Z is a very shrewd businessman, but I wonder: Does it occur to him that he is arguably crossing the line from husband to pimp by exploiting his wife as a sex object?” Huckabee, 59, wrote about the musical couple, who have wide appeal among younger generations.
Huckabee is a long-shot for winning the GOP nomination. His hopes of doing so depend on winning heavily among evangelical conservatives, particularly in Southern states.
In speeches and books, he has made a habit of statements that attract controversy, particularly on issues involving sexuality. He plays to the position many of his supporters hold that their beliefs are under assault by popular culture.
His views on social issues, particularly his opposition to same-sex marriage, play well with GOP primary voters, but appear to be out of step with the broader national electorate.
Huckabee also faces a generational challenge. Some younger Republican rivals are urging voters to back younger candidates in 2016.
While on the campaign trail, Huckabee has pledged not to cut Social Security or Medicare benefits and to overhaul the tax system. He has been a vocal supporter of term limits for members of Congress.
Huckabee served as Arkansas governor from 1996 until 2007, when he was termed out. He unsuccessfully sought the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, but won the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses with support from evangelicals and social conservatives.